So earlier this week, I took my sweet boys to the park for a picnic. I grabbed myself some fried chicken then got Nathan some chicken nuggets. We spread out a sheet at the park and had a glorioius meal. John mostly lurched around on the sheet, trying to take Nathan’s drink while making those adorable grunting noises that he makes. As we were eating, a small group of boys, about 5 years old, come by kicking a soccer ball. They got pretty close to smacking me with the ball, and Nathan said, “Hey guys!!! We’re trying to eat so don’t kick that ball here!” Ha ha. I love that kid.
When we finished eating, Nathan bounded over to the playground to let off some energy as I cleaned up. John attentively supervised. After I packed everything back up, John and I meandered over to a bench so I could keep a better eye on the playgound happenings. That one kid with the soccerball was in the middle of all the playground equipent kicking his ball around. Literally. The kid was kicking it up onto the play structures and all over the place. He must have thought he was cool. The mother and some dude who may have either been her boyfriend or just someone she was flirting with were sitting on the swings. She appeared oblivioius to the antics of her kid and talked in this annoying high-pitched voice that oozed of low-self esteem and desperation.
After a while, Nathan took notice of this kid with the soccerball. See, I’ve always taught Nathan to share. Well, he doesn’t HAVE to share if he doesn’t want to- but those things he doesn’t want to share stay at home in his room. Once he brings it out and plays with it in front of others, it’s fair game. So with this knowledge, Nathan bounds over to the kid and asks him if he can play, too. The kid, being the incredible hotshot that he thought he was, starts fancy-kicking the ball away from Nathan. Nathan has poor fine and gross-motor skills, so he finds it absolutely fascinating to watch when other kids have more advanced skills than him. Nathan sees this ball-kicking an an invitation to start playing, so he starts chasing after the boy. I watch from a distance, curious to see how this would evolve. Of course, as an adult with years of experience on my side, I already knew what would happen. I could just about smell the stench of Entitled Jerk radiating off this kid. But I wanted to see how Nathan would handle it when the inevitable occured.
And the inevitable did indeed happen. After a couple of minutes of Nathan trying to kick the soccerball, the kid finally grabs it off the ground and tells Nathan to get away. I stand up, John on my hip, and start slowly walking toward them, just in case I needed to intervene. At first, Nathan, who doesn’t have a good grasp on social issues, started laughing. He told the kid that the nice thing to do on the playground is to share. The kid said he didn’t have to share.
And then the hand-flapping started.
And then the tears.
Nathan, who doesn’t understand this hostility, starts bellowing (loudly!) that if the kid doesn’t share, Nathan’s going to go home and never play with him ever again. The kid said, who cares? Nathan’s hand flapping became more vigorous as he started yelling that he wants to play and he wants to be friends. That stupid mother just sat there on the swing and laughed. Sensing a meltdown, I called Nathan over and whispered that some parents never teach their kids how to be good people, how to share, or even manners for that matter. I told him it might be best to stay away from jerks like that. Nathan tearfully agreed. I helped him dry his eyes and off he went to play with some other kids.
And then I heard that mother. I use the term loosely, as being a mother is an ACTIVE job. She told her boyfriend/fling/whoever he was that “I don’t know how old that other kid is- he’s such a brat and needs to grow up.” I bristled. If I was a dinosaur, my spines totally would have been poised for attack. About that same time, Nathan tried one last time to play with that awful kid and the mother called out, “Just throw it over his head. He can’t get it then!” Really? She’s actively encouraging bullying? Of a kid with autism?! Granted, she doesn’t know Nathan’s issues, but that’s just it- you never know. Nathan, thank goodness, didn’t understand the implications of her taunting. He heard her say throw the ball over his head and thought it was a game. He hand-flapped and screamed, “YEAH! LET’S DO THAT!”
I stood where I was at and stared at this mother. I really couldn’t believe she just acted that way towards my child. Apparently, I must have been putting off some don’t-mess-with-my-kid vibes because she started shifting around, eventually getting up and sitting in a few different places. And then one of the other kids started picking on Nathan- told him he wasn’t “allowed” in the rock-climbing contraption that forms a circle that kids can get inside. When he tried to go in anyway, the kid pushed him down. I called Nathan to me and told him it was best to go home rather than play with bullies who have no conscience. Sweet boy came with me to the car, crying the whole time about how he just wanted to be friends. I told him that some kids aren’t worth being friends with. It’s more peaceful to be alone than to play with mean old bullies. Poor sweetie insisted that they were going to be friends.
And, as icing on the cake, as I was getting the kids back in the car to leave, this “mother” comes walking out to her car with FOUR kids in tow. All the ones that were mean. How odd. I don’t know if they were all hers- I know the one with the soccer ball was. And then the one with the soccer ball gets in the car and starts throwing baseball bats, gloves, and balls out into the road! She just looked at him as was like, “now, now.” All the kids were swarming around the side of my car as I was trying to back up, and she didn’t even try to keep them safe. I had to wait for them to move away.
The more I’m around other kids, the more I start to dislike them. It’s not even the kids’ fault- it’s the parents’ fault for raising them that way. It seems there are quite a number of these typse of parents out there. We’ve ran into a few awesome parents at the park, but the vast majority of them are just as big of a jerk as their kid. Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, huh?
My sweet, loving Nathan has much to learn. So much.